If you want to see a large penguin colony you must visit Punta Tombo, a protected natural reserve on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Here is all the information you need to get there and see these friendly animals in their natural habitat.
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Punta Tombo is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in the world, and this characteristic is what makes it recognized and worth visiting. Its species is the spheniscus magellanicus and it is also known as the Patagonian penguin.
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Where is Punta Tombo located?
The Punta Tombo Natural Reserve is located 188 km from Puerto Madryn and 120 km from Trelew. You can visit it both in your own car and in a rental car, or in an excursion from Puerto Madryn (and Trelew) that includes other surprises.
🚗 Check here if you want to rent a car in Puerto Madryn.
– How to get from Puerto Madryn to Punta Tombo in your own or rented car?
If you are going to visit Punta Tombo by car, from Puerto Madryn or Trelew, you have to take Route 3 to the south and then the detour on Provincial Route 75 for about 20 km, and then take another detour on Provincial Route 1. This entire route is paved and signposted.
Further on, you will arrive at the access to the Punta Tombo Natural Reserve, where you will have to travel a 22 km gravel road until you reach the Interpretation Center, where you will leave your car parked and start your visit.
📝 Travel tip: fuel must be loaded in Puerto Madryn or Trelew. Once you pass Trelew, on your way to the Punta Tombo Natural Reserve, there are no more gas stations (refueling stations) on the route.
– Visit Punta Tombo on an excursion
Most of the penguin tours to Punta Tombo are offered with other activities included in the tour. Some of them are usually a stop at Playa Unión and Puerto de Rawson (from where you can sail to see the dolphins or taste a seafood picada) and in the afternoon go to have tea in Gaiman.
📷 Take a look at these excursions to see the Magellanic penguins with a local agency and make your reservation:
– Punta Tombo Penguin Tour (stopping at Puerto Rawson and Gaiman).
– Punta Tombo excursion with penguins and Commerson’s dolphins sighting (includes 1 hour navigation). They also pass by Gaiman.
– Private Punta Tombo excursion. The tour is similar to the above, but at your own pace.
🔎 Check here the Top 5 things to do in Puerto Madryn.
Things to do in Punta Tombo
1. The Patagonian fauna
On the way to visit Punta Tombo, you will cross the typical landscape of the Patagonian plateau, where you can see guanacos and rheas on the side of the road. Already on the coast, there are a great number of sea birds such as southern gulls, cormorants and petrels.
2. Dos Pozos and Estancia La Antonieta
At km 234 of provincial route 1, on the way to the Natural Reserve, is the area of Dos Pozos, a place where a large freshwater napa was discovered, fundamental for human survival due to the aridity of the Patagonian terrain. Also there was created, at the end of the XIX century, the post office and telegraph station of Dos Pozos that allowed the communication of this zone with the rest of the country. This old and small post office has been restored and can be visited.
At 300 meters from this place, you can find the estancia La Antonieta, founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The estancia has a restaurant to taste the typical Patagonian lamb, and there are even four rooms to stay in.
3. Interpretation Center
The first stage of the visit in Punta Tombo is the Interpretation Center, a small building with videos and explanatory texts about the Magellanic penguins and the terrestrial and marine fauna that inhabit this area. It is a good starting point to learn more about these animals and why they come to Punta Tombo.
4. See the magellanic penguins
The reserve is crossed through trails, which can be on wooden walkways or delimited paths. There are two types:
- Short trail: 650 meters long and 1 hour long.
- Long trail (extended): 3500 meters long that can take up to 3 hours to walk.
From there you can see the penguins a few meters away, their nests and you can even cross them while they are going to or coming back from the sea. Keep in mind that it is forbidden to touch them for their protection.
Its very difficult to establish how many penguins does Punta Tombo have. But in high season th number of penguins you can see is really impressive, they are everywhere, making their characteristic sound.
What is the penguin season in Punta Tombo?
The best time to see the penguins if you are visiting Punta Tombo is from October to February.
In September is when the male magellanic penguins begin to arrive, to occupy the small caves or make a new one, to serve as a nest. Later, the females arrive and male penguins fight among themselves. In January, is when the baby penguins begin to leave the nests to learn to swim. It is the perfect time to travel with children to Punta Tombo.
The following months, March and April, some penguins can be seen, but they are in the process of arriving or leaving.
The rest of the year (May, June, July and August), the penguins are in the sea, and even some of them can be seen in Brazil. Penguins in Brazil? Yes, they come to latitudes near the south of Brazil to search for food.
Punta Tombo entrance fee (year 2020)
|Over 12 years old|
|Over 12 years old|
|Over 12 years old|
(2) Over 60 years of age
Due to the high inflation in Argentina, prices can suffer constant increases. It is recommended to check the updated prices in the official websites. To consult how much it costs in dollars or euros, we leave an online converter (you can also check in your home currency):
🔎 Check here the Punta Tombo official webpage.